Pairing: Seph/Gen – because it defines perfection.
Author's Note: Somewhat a role reversal of sorts. Also, kept the language simple - would probably keep doing that otherwise my mind would die (again) from over exhaustion. Give me a break, I'm part of two writer's groups and do EXTENSION English and I'm up against uni students. UNI STUDENTS!
About: This story was not to include haemophilia and was to be quite short, but then I experienced something close to it – platelet deficiency. For a whole month, I bruised easily and my blood took waaaaay longer to clot than usual. I didn't get random bleeds or bleeding in my joints, but I think it will be interesting to work with...
On destination. Banora is BELOW the equator, therefore it has Australian weather and it is unusual if it snows (not to mention Banora is also a place in Australia near Tweed Heads), Midgar is above.
WARNING: There is haemophilia, so be warned for blood and violence and sexual happenings later on.
I am writing this with great agony. This is utterly unrevised, if anything makes no sense, or sounds bland (because my poetic mind has died), blame the agony.
I had come to myself a stifling proposition, friend, one that not even you could pry my grasp from. I came to realise the fragility of our lives – the fragility of my life. It is troubling, birthing me sleepless nights and wails down the hall.
Had I a book, I would read. Had I a pen, I would write. Had I a song, I would sing. Had I a knife, I would kill.
...I write to you, dear friend, not in due time, but further in advance for a rather profound reason.
I am dead.
March. The warm earlier predecessors were days of summer and jubilance basked in a sun, where licks of clouds encircled it like the wings of doves and dispersed as if flight bid them elsewhere. Yet the days did not draw long and write like a song of luminous light and elation, but the clouds swooped low upon the earth, like ravenous crows in search of carrion and bitter seeds.
Ground flat and bare, mist made the house indistinct – a wavering illusion of brick and dying gardens. Leaves blanketed the bared soil and weeds choked the once cultivated plants – lilies and roses which glowed brightly like orbs of coloured sunshine – having them wither into black, bent stalks. A delicate array of ugly lace caught a moth in its wandering. It furiously beated its dust-coloured wings then had them torn by poisonous fangs and the arachnid drank its vile juices. Barbed shrubs severed the sky, cut the earth and stood like armed guards on a field of tall grasses. Midst the disarray lay a sparrow with its breast split and through its ribcage poked the head of a rat, body protruding through the feathery back.
Two eyes peered hollowly through the window, frosted from the cold. Fresh snow began to drift upon the unsightly scene and a foul taste lingered in the air. Smoke hung in the early morning light, the scent of ash rising from a far away land teased her senses for dismay. The window was frozen shut, yet wind touched her cheek and the beginnings of winter chilled her from ceiling to floor. She heard a groan and a sigh, a frivolous laugh then all died.
A quick gasp escaped from quivering lips. The lace curtains hung gracelessly from pale fingers as she drew back, dark eyes alight at the sight of an approaching visitor, but they dulled all the same. The calculating approach she saw, as if the visitor was scanning the possessions within by use of a sense unknown to mankind, and she dropped the curtain from frail fingers and shakily tucked a lock behind her ear awaiting their making of arrival.
The piano playing in the room down the hall stopped, her attention held in deep company to the figure walking up broken steps towards the door.
Two swift knocks of brass to mahogany and the lady of the house hurried down the flight of stairs, thick skirts in hand, other at the rail. A sharp glance at the grandfather clock creeping into view showed her the later hours of the afternoon. Wincing at the creak of the floorboards that she had yet needed attendance to, she dusted herself off at the foot of the stairs. Fruitlessly attempting to straighten her skirts and make herself somewhat presentable, she regained her composure and carefully laid her fragile hand upon the doorknob.
She swiftly turned around, back pressed to the door and eyes clenched shut while she muttered a prayer and made the sign of the cross thrice. God gave her little guidance, but her faith was all that she had.
She opened the front door, head hung low and eyes weighed after the briefest of glances to the man before her.
"I am sorry," she began, knitting her fingers together tightly over her apron, "You arrived far too late, I am afraid. Master has left us and has joined God now."
She raised her small head and jumped backwards, not at all recalling the man before her. A hand to her chest, she reached for the fire poker which she intentionally kept by the door.
"And who must you be, young sir?" she asked, eyeing him warily.
He smiled only the briefest and bowed low for the pale woman, silver tresses falling over his face, snowflakes sparkling in the long, flowing locks and he glanced upwards, green eyes meeting hers, "Sephiroth," he introduced himself as and due to her inquisitive eyes, he added "Simply, my name is Sephiroth. I do not go by any other name."
Obscuring her trust in him seeped from the lack of humility in which he gave. His smile spoke sinisterly and his domineering figure loomed a great shadow upon her. She hid well her qualms and took her attention to what lay beyond the tall figure. Having found nothing, or no one more, to cause any upset, she scrutinised his facade. Trim, fitted coat, freshly polished cane, dark velvet scarf and a leather suitcase in hand – such a curious character. A gust of wintry wind flew through the doorway, making her recoil as she futilely rubbed her arms for warmth.
"What is your purpose in this arrival?" she asked once she gathered herself, "Surely, it cannot be for me."
Surely enough, "No."
Blinking from quite the surprise, she would have laughed had she not been so inferior, however, instead, she thought dimly of this man's arrival and on what grounds. He seemed young, early twenties fitted nicely. Had he been an acquaintance who had not yet been informed?
With sympathy and a leaden heart, she sighed shakily, skin prickling with fear and unease.
Feeling her lungs constrict with familiar discomfort, she fingered the artificial curl in her hair, before lacing both hands together, as if in prayer. Looking sincerely into the eyes of the visitor she said, "My master has passed on. He is no longer with us in this world, but the kingdom of heaven will guide him to salvation and bliss; that I am sure."
Disdain fell upon Sephiroth's face, eyes dimming and withdrawn, instead of sorrow, he seemed rather disappointed.
"When has your master passed?" he asked rather with dissatisfaction than sentiment.
"Not yet six weeks." replied the woman, and Sephiroth chastised himself in a war of mental words.
She glanced down at his suitcase and the slight pucker of a frown between his brows, clearly not knowing the man and the means of his arrival, "I am sorry," she began, "Was there something that you needed to see to him for?"
He looked beyond her to the house's interior, all lavishly furnished with ornate woven carpets, fine crystal vases, polished timbers, neo-classical paintings of mythical gods and floral arrangements all laced in gold trimmings of filigree. He had hoped to see him standing there, tall, handsome and refined, but he saw no one other than the timid young woman before him.
Green eyes settled on her, "Take me to him." he said sternly.
The woman was bewildered by his request that she dropped the fire poker with an awfully loud clatter and stared up at him with wide eyes, "Pardon?" she managed to choke, hand coming up to her throat in surprise of the terribly weak sound she made.
"Your master," he said for the second time, not at all revealing a sign of questioning on behalf of her curious actions, "I wish to see him."
'Oh dear...' she thought to herself, yet did not let her woe dawn upon her features, instead she smiled as warmly as she could against the cold about her (the visitor not providing any warmth with his arrival at all), and with a few moments apprehension she stepped aside, "Certainly, Mr Sephiroth. Please, do allow me to take your coat."
Sephiroth strode in and the lady closed the door to the icy winds, though the house was still veiled in its eternal frost, and he declined her offer, "No, Madam. I wish to see him now."
She turned sharply at his immediate request, hands loudly slapping the door behind her.
"Are you entirely sure?" she asked, panicked, "I could make you a cup of tea first, it would provide great relief from the cold, I am certain it will, sir!"
He beheld her facade, took in the trembling clasp of her hands, the pallid flush in her face, brown eyes that were wide and skittering about her surroundings. She would brush a strand of hair from her face and bite her lower lip, so clearly in an obvious, appalling nervous state.
His scrutiny only aggravated the poor woman's anxiety, so he removed his gaze from her and to an imbalanced crystal chandelier held precariously above his head from a rusty chain.
"Perhaps I could take up your offer later," he replied and advanced further into what felt as a rather vacant residence, "In knowing of his death, I would not intend on staying very long, however, it is possible that you could enlighten me on him."
She smiled frailly and bowed her head despite her inner aversion of the visitor wanting so desperately to see her master without any solid ground as to why.
"Indeed I could, sir."
She had taken him outside, where the world about blazed a dull grey and the weeds grew in a tremendous wildfire. The woman lifted her skirts to her knees, having to stop constantly to tear them from thorns and spindly plants while they raked across the leather of Sephiroth's boots. Dry sticks and leaves crunched beneath their feet and she stumbled over troublesome rocks, almost having fallen, but never having done so.
The earth was uneven, the landscape unattended to. It was quite an ugly, foreboding sight, yet the man cared little for it all. He was more than eager to see him, to meet him after so many years of admiration that bordered near veneration. However, it did occur to him that the sights around him were far less picturesque than those described in what he had read.
They reached a small group of trees and they weaved their way through the maze of low, crooked branches. Her eyes were attentive, scurrying about, head turning swiftly and her shoulders ached with tension. Sephiroth took little notice of her actions, finding the path in which she took all the more worthy and he paid naught else any heed.
A raven called high in a barren tree from behind an old oak. Trunk wide and branches spread across the heavens, it housed only a small black bird, its roots veining hideously up over the earth, rippling like tumbling waves.
At its sight, she stopped, clutching a hand to her heart and muttered a silent prayer. He seemed to understand.
"If you need me I will be in the kitchen, just over there." she said, pointing over in the distance to a place within the house.
Tears gathered in her eyes, she took them to the grey stone, weeping openly, before bowing once to Sephiroth, and whispered, "I will leave you two in peace."
With a final glance to her master, she turned away and left.
A wind beckoned, made the timbers sigh and creak as they bowed low towards the stone almost in respectful acknowledgement of the deceased. There was ash in the air, it filled his lungs and dried his tongue. It bothered him not, but his iridescent, green eyes were fixed upon the stone, the even soil and the brightly coloured flowers that looked distasteful having been placed wrongly midst the gloom of the hostile land.
His long hair whipped about him, the wind coming stronger and the heavens grumbled loudly as if in repulsive retribution. Slowly, he advanced on the stone, the finest smile of accomplishment and joy brightened his face against the surrounding sorrow. He fell to his knees, head bowed and contentment erupted within him, spreading a warmth from his chest to disperse throughout his person.
"Pleasure to have finally me–" his words caught in his throat, eyes dancing madly over the script. They stopped and confusion writ his features, "...Genesis..."
The kitchen door banged against the wall and Sephiroth crossed the room to the woman who crossed herself by the sink.
"There must be a misunderstanding!" he exclaimed, trying to rationalise what he had seen.
The poor woman quickly calmed herself and picked up the knife she had dropped in the sink from the fright that her guest had given her, then continued carefully peeling the potatoes before her, "Pardon?" she began, cutting out an eye as she tried to appear as natural as possible, "How could there be?"
He watched her. Her pale hands shook and she hid her face well with her hair, though he knew the worry placed upon it.
"You have shown me the headstone of one Genesis Rhapsodos. I am here for Sir Walter Rhapsodos," he said, then frowned at the slipping of her hands and the clatter of the blade against the sink.
She began peeling again, nonchalantly, but her eyes flitted between the window and her task at odd intervals.
He began to doubt, though wisely he should have doubted upon entry. This woman, dumb looking and small, was in a constant state of overwhelming anxiety, the way her body seemed to quiver with fright and her eyes dart about like flies with great unease. It perturbed him in the least and puzzled him at most making him feel unwelcome into a rather clandestine home, a place full of lies, deception and secrecy, "He is your master, is he not?"
"Oh..." she said, seemingly surprised, then she shook her timid head in dismay and as a response, "No...He has died many years ago, why I was hardly a woman then."
The revelation was startling and the colour escaped from his face, leaving with it the hope to meet the one man he regarded as someone worthy of his respect and has kept him captivated with finely laced words and intelligent philosophies. He could have been regarded as his icon, a man that was able to gain value of worship and praise for he was one of the greatest minds to have entered the world of literature.
Yet he had come too late, instead having to leave with the image of a woman peeling potatoes and an empty expanse in his soul.
"Thank you for your time." he said, bowing low and ready to take his suitcase he left in the entrance hall.
"Please!" cried the woman, banging the hilt of the knife against the sink.
He stopped at once and turned towards her, shocked by the firmness from such a soft, gentle lady.
Her body shook, voice weak, but she spoke with fingers flexing around knife and potato, "Do not leave," she turned to face him, dark eyes awash in painful red so full of terror and obvious unease, "You can take my master's room upstairs. You look as if you have business. I apologise if you have...wasted, your time, but master would be quite appreciative if I were to be all the more hospitable to you."
She was pleading, and he failed to pity her.
Without another thought, he opened the kitchen door and left silently, but gentle, hurried footsteps fell into his own.
"Please Mr Sephiroth!" she called after him, tripping on her skirts and knocking a ceramic vase to the floor in her act.
She gave it little grief and rushed to grasp his hand in hers, "Please, sir...There must be an intention for you to stay. I do not want to appear so demanding and in such desperation, but master would have wanted this. Do understand, I am only wishing to make him happy by being a kind, hospitable lady under your service."
He held questions, many, and was there a pointlessness in finding their answer? He glanced at his suitcase down the hall, oh how he hoped that he could find those answers! Countless hours, days, weeks and years he has spent deciphering those tattered pieces he bought at a dilapidated bookstore occupied by an elderly man and his sickly, aged, feline companion.
There was purpose in the unpublished, in the works considered by many as lacking said purpose. Sephiroth found purpose, but he was yet to find soul.
However, he took his leave and closed the door to her desperate cries.
Sighing heavily, he departed briskly from the house, ignoring the biting cold and pulled the collar of his coat tighter around his face. He wasted his time and did not want to hear Angeal's caustic lecturing upon word of his failed endeavour. He did not want to have his sympathy, or to be talked to as if he were still some naive young boy with a butcher of doctor for a father and a mound of dust as his mother.
Retreating, he felt a strange chill slither down his body. He halted, sensed a beckoning around him, a surreal hand curving round his arm. There was no odd sight, but the muddy turf and the tall grasses dusted sparsely in white. There was, however, that lingering, fleeting touch, but no being to be held responsible. Shaking his head at his own foolishness, he proceeded his departure, yet eerie sounds and wraith-like mists swam in languid circles.
The dulcet tones of a distant piano drifting in the stilled breeze were like a harsh testimony against the natural order. Defying these peculiar signs he stormed through the black iron gates and onto the path lined with modest homes of grey stone and black shingles. The lampposts flickered, flame thrashing about its small confine like a madman in a cell.
Footsteps on cobblestone echoed in the vast emptiness and the horrendous weather became further bitter. The clouds darkened significantly, a burst of light flashed through the sky like a jagged cutting knife into the heart of Banora. Thunder clapped and rain pelted the earth in a loud haphazard drumming sounding so much like a discordant symphony.
Raising his suitcase over his head, he continued along the path, a growing wind slowing him down considerably.
Ahead of him was a bench, looking worse for wear and able to collapse under his weight. A tall, unfazed man sat on it, elbows digging into his knees.
"What are you doing out here?" hollered Sephiroth above the howl of nature.
The man looked at him, hair wet, black, and he grinned vindictively and opened eyeless sockets.
With a flash of lightning he vanished
Slamming the door behind him, the maid bumped the vase she had begun repairing, azure fragments falling apart into a disorderly mosaic. Taking his eyes to the small woman, his mind was held between leaving and staying with uncertainty. She peered at him, inquisitively and left the ceramic pieces alone as she stood. Sephiroth was unsure of himself, not knowing why he approached her and told her that he would not mind staying for the night.
She smiled softly at him, helping the man out of his wet coat and seated him by the fireplace of an extravagant room filled with only the richest of decor. Though gold arabesque dimmed with dust and the warm fire itself was rather ominous.
She introduced herself over a simple, hearty dinner. She having apparently having stayed at the Rhapsodos household since a very young age.
"My father passed away, you see," she had said, napkin to her mouth like a dainty, fair lady, "And my mother was a servant here. I became the companion of my late master, lovely Genesis Rhapsodos. We were good friends, he never spoke much, but when he had he only voiced his words with eloquence."
Miss Tifa (as they both resolved on calling her – Sephiroth was eager to dub her Miss Lockheart, though she disapproved of it) was quite a talkative woman, much to Sephiroth's malcontent. She went on about many things, all of which were trivial and held little interest for the man.
While she knitted away by the fireplace, he held the yarn for her listening only just and tried to familiarise himself with his surroundings.
"Truly, I thank you for giving up your time to stay here," she said, looking up from her work to him with sincerity, "It does get quite lonely..."
"Do you ever have visitors?" he asked, not caring whether she had or had not.
She shook her head and knitted away, making Sephiroth quite impatient, "No. Who would visit a servant?" and she laughed uncomfortably.
A bizarre sensation overcame her and her hands quivered so much that she abandoned her knitting mid-stitch. Her fear came at her again. Skin tingling and back rigid.
Women, such inane, melodramatic beings.
Breaking the silence, he took the opportunity to find what he searched for, "Would you feel comfortable on talking of Sir Walter Rhapsodos?" he asked.
With a brief glance to him, she went back to her knitting, as if her curious behaviour had not occurred, "Well...I suppose it depends. What would you like to know?"
"Personally, what was he like, from what you could remember of him?" His question made her frown.
"He was a few years older than I, four years seems just about right. He loved his sports. He took up fencing, polo and horse riding. Akin to that love, he always kept in the company of women be they ordinary harlots or the daughter's of kings – It never bothered him. He just had a notorious reputation of wasting his money on women and wine. " she said, each phrase only sounding more detesting as the last, "He was arrogant, self-centred, foolish and...and very vain. He believed himself above all others, (haughty bastard) treated servants like myself with the same disrespect as one would a fly. I never liked him, not once!"
Sephiroth quirked a brow, utterly perplexed by her words, "Strange..."
"I'll say. His writing is a far cry from who he was as a person."
Could it really be true or that perhaps she was a hateful, rude woman? The bewildering news was astounding and for Sephiroth, exceedingly indigestible.
"From what you are telling me it sounds as if those written works were those of someone else."
She dropped her knitting to the floor and she became awash with stillness. He chose to disregard it and would have simply stood up and left the room had he not been such a charming gentleman. Eventually, she came around, noticed her work on the floor and picked it up with a coy smile.
"Sorry, please do excuse my odd behaviour," she said, "I am very unused to visitors."
With a pithy tilt of his head, really not caring at all for her mannerisms, he asked, "And your master, what was he like?"
Miss Tifa made the sign of the cross and released a shuddering breath, hands falling together onto her lap in a tight coil, her skin appearing translucent, and her veins were dry and empty. Age seemed to settle on her, many years and many lifetimes. Eyes hollow and dim turned to the fire as if wanting so much to sap the light. A saddening sight of a girl at great loss.
"He was a lonely child," she began, absentmindedly toying with a string of yarn, "He was quite brave, masterful – he was a true maestro of all arts. He enjoyed his literature, they being his only love. A tragic boy, plagued by an ailing disease and denied so many luxuries. But he was beautiful, Mister Sephiroth! I am certain that had you met him you would find yourself enthralled by his glamour."
"Did he write?"
She paused. "No. He did not."
There was a chiming of metal to wood and Sephiroth turned his head towards the sound. A series of faint notes lofted in the air and rolled down the forked staircase. He stood and brought himself to the foot of the stairs.
"Sir?" He heard the woman shuffle towards him with curious alarm in her step.
He advanced up the staircase, the scraggly limbs of naked trees raking against the grand arched window before him. A step creaking beneath his foot and the tones of a piano died into dense silence.
"Is something the matter, Mister Sephiroth?"
Her soft voice drew him out of his reverie. He faced her, mind still lost to the haunting, sombre song.
"Are you certain that you are the only one here?" he asked, still dazed from the dreamlike happening.
"Yes. I've been on my own for...well...since his death."
He frowned. Odd.
How could it be that a wealthy young, apparently intelligent man, only have one servant, particularly one like this – a timid wreck? It truly had him shocked at the clear lack of logic from it all.
"Why is that?" he questioned harshly, "Surely there were more people in this household."
She smiled bleakly and climbed the stairs, "There had been others. But only I remained here with my master."
Her dress dusting the carpeted steps, she motioned him to follow her through an open passage to a hall seeing light from a single window. On its sill sat a white ceramic vase embellished in silver housing seven withered roses and two of the most luminous crimson.
He would have enquired as to why, only she stopped before a door and curtsied putting an end to any conversation which would transpire.
She spoke with the faintest trembling whisper, "Rest well tonight, Mister Sephiroth."
Miss Tifa left hurriedly, and Sephiroth was rather positive that he saw anxiety cross her features. What much did it matter? So long as she managed to speak. However, the revelations that the day had brought to him thus far were baffling.
Proceeding into the room and closing the door behind him, he found his suitcase and cane by a modest writing desk in another ostentatiously decorated room. Heavy, velvet curtains, a generously sized bed with scarlet silk sheets, looming bookshelves filled with not only their intended holding item, but also novelties: a black feather, red silk fan, blue gemstone, hand-painted carnival mask and what appeared to be a collection of different rose petals. There was a vanity by the window with what looked to be a crystal vial of perfume. A white sheet draped over the mirror spilled onto the floor like a white, cascading waterfall. His coat hung on hanger at the handle of the wide wardrobe with intricate designs.
It was somewhat daunting to be in such a vast, lavish room, almost suffocating with the obvious wealth oozing from the objects around him, yet there was serenity, timelessness and although he felt intrusive, he could not help but sense a gentle welcome.
Enough delay he thought and seated himself down by the desk, made a mountainous mess of papers and quills, emptying out his suitcase and carefully placing his rifle on a nearby bookshelf. Striking a match, he lit a candle and prepared himself for a sleepless night.
Why Tifa? Needed a woman. Besides, I don't think Angeal would look all that great knitting and peeling potatoes. Aerith...uh...no, she's the type to faint at the sight of blood and bruises.
Poetic mind is in hibernation. Review and whatnot if you so please.